Talk:2008-09 BM1 Assignment 2: Drama
I just read the new assignment and wonder what the "blaue Modulzettel" is? Thanks for your answer!
am I mistaken, or do we really have to use: right margin:3cm AND left margin:4cm for the Assignment? It does not look right to me. Any help is welcome. Thanks
1. Close Analysis of the Passage
- a) The passage can be divided into four different parts, regarding the communicative situation and its changes and variations.
- The first part goes from line 406 to 408 and is an informative soliloquy, spontaneously improvised by Ferdinand about Ariel’s song which he just heard and finds supernatural, reminding him of his father who he considers to be dead.
- In the second part from line 409 to 419 the communicative situation changes and Prospero draws Miranda’s attention to Ferdinand, whom she finds beautiful, by giving a direct command “[…] and say what thou seest yond” (ll. 9-10 ½). This makes Prospero seem dominant and leading the conversation, underlined by the number of lines the two characters speak in general in the passage, as Prospero has 13, whereas Miranda just has seven. This is furthermore stressed by Prospero interrupting and correcting Miranda, who thinks that Ferdinand is supernatural.
- The third part now is a shorter one, going from line 420 to 422 ½, showing Prospero’s contention about how things worked out. In the first part there is an “aside” and Prospero does not address any particular person, but the communicative situation changes, as Prospero remembers that what happened is due to Ariel, and addresses him in the second part of this section, thanking him. That the other two characters cannot hear him again underlines Prospero’s dominance of the conversation, he influences it as he wants.
- Now, for the first time, all three characters talk with each other in the last part, which goes from line 422 ½ to 432. One could think that Ferdinand dominates the conversation here, because he speaks the most in lines, although this is not the case as he just wants to express his feelings for Miranda which are plenty, but rather Prospero dominates the conversation again, because he interrupts and instructs, but this time Ferdinand and not Miranda.
- b) Ferdinand is characterized figuratively as beautiful and seemingly supernatural by Miranda in lines 410-412, what is an explicit characterization in the dialogue between Miranda and Prospero in absentia, because Ferdinand does not seem to hear this, although he is on stage. Because Miranda says this it gets more convenient on the one hand because she is a woman and men normally do not judge another man’s beauty but on the other hand also weakens the characterization because the audience knows that she has not seen any men except Caliban and Prospero in her life.
- Furthermore Ferdinand is also characterized as good looking by Prospero in lines 415-416 “thou mightst call him a goodly person” in the same mode as Miranda did, but now evokes a different effect as he is a male also and so again, on the one hand strengthens what Miranda said before, but on the other hand makes it more unconvincing. This contrast confuses the audience. Ferdinand characterizes himself implicitly as polite and honorable by stylistic texture as he speaks with Miranda, trying to please her and thus uses a lot of according words with a positive connotation as for example “goddess” or “good instructions”. This draws a positive light on him.
- Miranda is mostly characterized figuratively and implicitly by Prospero who gives direct commands and corrects her, making her seem narrow minded and inexperienced. This is a characterization by verbal behavior which is very convincing for the audience. In the same way she characterized Ferdinand as good looking and supernatural, he characterizes her now. The only difference in mode is that she is present while he says it, so he directly addresses her, what underlines his braveness.
- Prospero is mainly characterized implicitly by his own verbal behavior, as he dominates and leads the conversation in our passage, making him seem calculating and following a certain plan. It also characterizes him as omniscient, as he seems to know the answer to everything. This creates tension about how far his plans will work out or not and what exactly he is actually planning. :Prospero is also characterized implicitly and authorial by his name. It indicates that his plans will prosper, what they will do later on in the play, and could also refer to his lost prosperity he now wants to get back due to his plans.
- c) The stylistic level throughout our passage never goes entirely below the “Genius Medium” as it is written in blank verse and thus already reaches beyond colloquial speech which is a characteristic of the “Genius Humile”. Nevertheless one can still see differences in the language of the different characters, as for example Miranda only has small parts of speech and thus also just uses short sentences with a simple syntax, being is a feature of the “Genus Medium”, although it also shows some characteristics of the “Genus Humile” as for example almost no figures of speech. Prospero’s language here is more metaphorical, consisting of longer and more complex sentences, although not reaching into the “Genus Grande” as he wants to stay on a practical level and push forward his plan. Ferdinand’s style is similar to Prospero’s with the exception that he also shows some aspects of the “Genus Grande”, as for example an extraordinary sentence structure or the usage of solemn terms like “goddess” (l. 422 ), when he addresses Miranda to express his feelings for her.
2. Looking at the Wider Context
- a) The way characters influence each other is important in our passage, where Prospero leads the conversation in the way he wants it to be, as well as throughout the whole Drama. In the passage Act 2, Sc. 2, ll. 122-174 there is a similar situation, as Stephano influences Caliban and Trinculo to his behalf, just transferred to a lower intellectual and stylistic level. Instead of using his language and intellect to influence his collocutors, like Prospero does, Stephano uses alcohol. Also Prospero’s determination is more solidified, whereas Stephano does not really know why he is doing this, he just enjoys the power he has and does not follow a certain plan. This simplification can also be seen in the formal comparison of the two passages as Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban almost only use the “Genus Humile” with short sentences and a lot of colloquial expressions, just broken on and off by some metaphors or comparisons that however are inappropriate or wrong, as for example “kiss the book” (l. 27), whereas Prospero only uses the “Genus Medium” as mentioned in 1c.
- b) In our passage some kind of dramatic irony is created by the fact that Miranda and Ferdinand do not know certain things that the audience does, as for example Ferdinand still thinks that his father is dead or Miranda assumes that Ferdinand is a spirit. This is the case more often in the drama, mostly because of Prospero’s seeming omniscience which is transmitted to the audience, which then knows certain things the characters do not and thus the behavior of those is regarded in a more expectant way. On the one hand this creates another layer of suspense, as for example if characters will take the fatal or the saving option, us already knowing which one is right. On the other hand this can also create humorous situations, as for example Trinculo and Stephano not being sure if Caliban is a fish or a man. These situations are created to keep the audience entertained and paying attention.
1. a) communicative situation:
- Section one, ll. 406-408: Ferdinand tries to make sense of the music he hears. He cannot see Ariel and is unaware of the presence of Miranda and Prospero.
- Section two, ll. 409-420: This is a dialogue between Prospero and Miranda. Miranda, prompted by Prospero's instruction, spots Ferdinand. She is confused and thinks Ferdinand a handsome spirit. Prospero explains that Ferdinand is a mere man, stranded on the island and looking for his companions. Miranda repeats that that she finds him divinely handsome.
- Section three, ll. 420-421: Prospero says in an aside that all is going according to his plan. He speaks to Ariel, telling him that he is pleased with his work.
- Section four, ll. 422-431: Ferdinand greets Miranda, and accompanied by Ariel's music (see l. 423), asks her if she is really a human. Miranda replies that she is. Ferdinand starts to tell her about himself, alluding to his royal status.
- Section five, ll. 431-432: Prospero interrupts Ferdinand, expressing disbelief and suspicion while insinuating that Ferdinand is lying about his status.
- Though Prospero and Ferdinand have the same number of lines, Prospero is the dominant character in this passage. Ferdinand is unsure of where he is or what to do and Miranda is fixated on Ferdinand. Prospero is the designer of their encounter and steers the other two with his queries and speeches. Miranda has the fewest number of lines, speaking only three times. Though Ariel has no lines in this passage, he is present onstage and enjoys a degree of power through his music and his special status as conscious(ly forced) accomplice of Prospero's designs.
1. b) characterization:
- Ferdinand plays a good-looking and confused young man. The figural explicit commentary in the dialogue between Miranda and Prospero point to these traits – "Lord, how it looks about!" exclaims Miranda, while Prospero calls him "goodly" (l. 411ff). Although Ferdinand refers to himself as the king ("the best of them," l. 430) in a figural, explicit self-commentary, he implies that he is neither ready for the independence nor the status that the shipwreck and presumed death of his father have thrust upon him by asking Miranda how he should bear himself (see l. 426). Interestingly, Ferdinand assumes that Miranda is in charge and asks her what to do, thus placing himself within her power.
- Miranda is an initially dutiful daughter who is pulled into Ferdinand's orbit. Her speaking roles, though at first prompted by Prospero, revolve around Ferdinand – she describes him, observes him, speaks with him. When first asked what she sees, Miranda shows deference to her father in her figural implicit verbal behavior by calling him "sir" (l. 411). In her second speech, it is unclear whether she has even been listening, she does not build on Prospero's explanation, but continues in the vein of her first speech, both distracted and fascinated by Ferdinand. In her third speaking part, Miranda speaks only to Ferdinand and calls him "sir," now demonstrating her deference to him (l. 428). Miranda's appearance also plays a role in her characterization. Prospero describes her eyes (see l. 409) and Ferdinand likens her to a goddess (see l. 422) – more figural explicit commentary in dialogue. However, the ultimate interpretation of physical characteristics depends upon the casting and directing decisions in a staged performance.
- Consistent with his position of power, Prospero is not explicitly described (and thus defined) by anyone in this passage. He is left to describe himself through his words and actions. By saying that his intellect directs the happenings ("my soul prompts it," l. 421), Prospero explicitly refers to himself as the one in charge. He implicitly admits his dependence on Ariel by talking with him about how the plan is working. Ariel is explicitly described by Prospero's figure as being a "fine spirit," but without a staged version, the reader lacks any figural, implicit, non-verbal behavior to learn more about him (see ll. 420-422).
1. c) rhetoric:
- In section one, Ferdinand speaks in the low style, or genus humile. He thinks he is alone and is simply trying to make sense of what he hears. In section two, Prospero speaks in the mixed style, or genus mixtum, shown through his use of metaphors both meant to flatter Miranda, thus endearing her to him ("fringed curtains of thine eye," l. 409), and arouse her sympathies for Ferdinand ("stained with grief," ll. 415-416). He uses logos or logic to make Ferdinand seem accessible and desirable to Miranda, saying he has the same senses as any other person. The repetition of "such" in line 414 invites Miranda to imagine what other senses Prospero could be talking about (sexual innuendo?). When speaking in his aside and to Ariel, Prospero switches to the low style – he is talking business, so to speak. The use of a lower rhetorical style also implies that the motives behind his machinations are not as lofty as the speeches that serve them.
- At first, Ferdinand addresses Miranda in the mixed style in order to impress and seem princely in front of this potential goddess. He uses unusual syntax (see l. 425) and unnecessary subordinate clauses (see l. 427). When Miranda answers in the plain style (her answer is short and without embellishment), Ferdinand also begins to speak in low style. This fits in with Ferdinand's need for external orientation and reflects the bond that has already grown between the two. Prospero's interjection, also in low style, is in gruff, short sentences, meant to break the two out of their reverie, provoke a response from Ferdinand and take control of the conversation.
- In scene 4.1.194-254 there is a communicative situation both similar and different to 1.2.406-432. Both scenes involve three players with speaking parts. In both scenes, one of the three (Prospero/Caliban) has a plan whose success is dependent on the others' actions. Whereas Prospero, who doesn't speak openly of his plans, manages to steer both dialogue and behavior in the desired direction, Caliban's direct instructions are ignored by Trinculo and Stephano, who, like Miranda, are distracted by handsome objects. Caliban is often interrupted and outnumbered by the two in terms of spoken lines. He doesn't communicate on their level (prose, not blank verse) and is unable to break into their world. Prospero, though he controls the situation, would fail without Ariel's help. Caliban has no such magical help and is not in control.
- motives, methods and morality:
- Ferdinand and Miranda, though undeniably in love, are manipulated into matrimony, not for their own sake, but to satisfy Prospero's desire for revenge and restored power. He plans their fate. Prospero's methods are reminiscent of those Antonio uses as decribed in 1.2.66-116, where Antonio creates new alliances without Prospero's knowledge or permission, thus usurping the Dukedom of Milan and satisfying his desire for power. In 5.1.1-20, it is not certain whether Prospero will ultimately be moved by anger or forgiveness; the difference between Prospero and his brother ultimately lies in the space between a happy and a tragic ending. Conversely, Caliban makes no secret of his plans or his preferred methods when speaking with Trinculo and Stephano. His motives are similar to Prospero's (revenge, power), the desired outcome violent, yet Caliban is sincere in communicating his intent. If the methods of a usurper and the avenging usurped are sneaky and those of a monster sincere, how do we define moral behavior in the Tempest?